A Ukrainian youth who identifies as a transgender woman yet uses male pronouns claims he was raped while on a date, and then beaten and robbed by a group of people in the city of Zhytomyr.
The youth, 19, claims he met a 17-year-old through the dating app Badoo, and they decided to meet in person on April 29. He said although the date knew about his gender identity, he reacted negatively at first, but then suggested buying drinks and having them near the river, according to a copy of the police report posted online by Hromadske.
When they arrived at the river, the victim claims the 17-year-old forced him to perform oral sex. The assailant then called someone on the phone, took the victim into the bushes and started beating him. Soon, a car with four young men and a young woman arrived on scene.
The victims says the gang stripped him naked, handcuffed him, broke his nose, tried to rape him, and threatened to kill him while filming the attack on their mobile phones. They then forced him to walk naked and bleeding on the road while they followed him in a car.
As he approached his house, they threatened him with a knife and demanded that he pay them 10,000 hryvnia, or the equivalent of $370.
The victim was taken to the hospital, and filed a police report in which he alleged he was tortured and experienced severe bodily harm, in violation of his civil rights. He says police arranged a medical exam, but that exam did not include a rape kit, according to the Kyiv Post.
Police, however, said the assault was “a conflict between young men” and are only investigating the case as a robbery. In a May 5 press release, police said that the victim “posed as a woman on a dating app and came to the date dressed in feminine clothing and wearing makeup.”
“One of the partners suspected that he had (actually) not met with a girl, and a conflict broke out between them,” the official press release states. “During the fight, a car passed by the young men. The driver and passengers intervened in the situation.”
“At the moment, I am in a great state of fear for my life,” the victim told the Kyiv Post.
“I also worry a lot for my parents because the assailants know where I live and saw my parents when they broke into our front yard,” he wrote.
The Ukrainian LGBTQ rights organization Nash Svit says that LGBTQ people are often targeted through online dating apps and subjected to physical violence, harassment, and extortion.
According to the organization, there were 123 known cases of anti-LGBTQ violence or harassment in the country last year. One-third of the cases were “mixed-type hate crimes,” where assailants lured victims using dating websites, collected their personal information, and blackmailed them by threatening to out them. The rest resulted in physical assaults.
Oleksandr Zinchenko, an expert at Nash Svit, told the Kyiv Post that the anti-gay slurs used by the assailants against the victim point to the fact that the attack was motivated by hate.
Unfortunately, victims rarely report the details behind their attacks to police, except in the most extreme cases, as with the youth from Zhytomyr.
Ukraine does not have a law recognizing hate crimes committed due to a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Three draft bills to add LGBTQ protections to hate crime laws have been submitted in Parliament, but, just as in the United States, the bills have received pushback from religious groups who claim such protections will infringe on social conservatives’ religious freedom and freedom of speech.
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